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William Byrd

(1674—1744) landowner and diarist


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(1674–1744),

Virginia planter, resided at Westover on the James River, and in 1737 had the city of Richmond laid out on his lands. His library of more than 4000 volumes was reputedly the largest in the English colonies, and his cultural interests resulted in his membership in the Royal Society. He was a colonial agent in England (1697–1705, 1715–26). His commission as a surveyor of the boundary line between North Carolina and Virginia, reported in his History of the Dividing Line, and Journey to the Land of Eden and Progress to the Mines, posthumously published journals found among his Westover Manuscripts, are lively and witty accounts of an urbane patrician in a frontier setting. The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover (1941) and Another Secret Diary (1942) are later discovered accounts written in shorthand in the years 1709–12, 1739–41, as is The London Diary (1958) concerning part (1717–21) of his second residence in England.

Subjects: Literature — World History.


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